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Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2009

On Tour with Ulysses

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­­Ulysses' Crewmen completes an exhausting journey to the stage this week as Insurgent Theatre brings the two-person dramato the Cream City Collectives (732 E. Clarke St.). Playwright and Insurgent Theatre co-founder Ben Turk has been working on the script for years.

The story concerns the kidnapping of the U.S. delegate to a G20 trade summit. It's a short, brutal interaction between the captive delegate (Turk) and a lone revolutionary (Kate Pleuss) who has brought him to a secure spot after things got out of hand elsewhere. Two people. One Room. One act. An earlier draft of the script had featured more characters and a more elaborate plot. In the latest, one-act version of the script, Turk has streamlined the story down to its basic, primal elements.

Pleuss, who has performed with Insurgent before, carries the more explicit ends of the script, which draw parallels between power, sex, exploitation, contemporary class struggle and ancient Greek myth. She's attempting to keep her cool in a situation that is beyond her control. Bound and gagged as the captive delegate, Turk can only communicate through struggling against his captivity. In the intimate confines of the Cream City Collectives, this could turn out to be a very emotionally vivid production. The irony in the reversal of roles between the disenfranchised and those in power makes for an interesting dynamic, but the real challenge here is to make the interactions between captor and captive seem real and palpable.

Insurgent Theatre started out here in Milwaukee under the name S-martKino in 2003. Since then, Insurgent has produced and taken part in dozens of fringe theater productions including some of the most interesting experimental theater in Milwaukee in the past few years. Through it all, Turk has been working on Crewmen. Its public debut this week has been avery long time in coming.

Insurgent Theatre's Ulysses' Crewmen runs Aug. 14 and 15 at the Cream City Collectives and Aug. 23 at the Borg Ward, 823 W. National Ave. After that, Turk and Pleuss begin a month-long tour with the show, taking it across various locations in the Midwest to the East Coast and back. The final show in the run will be on Sept. 30 at Stonefly Brewery.